‘Chemistry you can’t force:’ 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on team’s offseason dynamics
College prospects weren’t the only focus for the 49ers this week at the annual NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
While defensive linemen and linebackers worked out Sunday, the team came to an agreement with guard Mike Person on a three-year contract ahead of his free agency next week, a league source confirmed.
The deal is worth $9 million over three seasons, according to ESPN, which was first to report the news, making Person, 30, a 49er until 2021. The deal means San Francisco is expected to bring back its entire starting offensive line after Person started all 16 games in his second 49ers stint.
“I became a big admirer of Mike Person. There’s a big thing for showing up in this league and being dependable,” general manager John Lynch said last week at the combine.
Person, a seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2011, played for four teams from 2012-17, including the Falcons in 2015, when 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator.
Person rejoined San Francisco last spring, expecting to provide depth and to back up center Weston Richburg. Person wound up winning the starting job at right guard in training camp over former first-round draft picks Joshua Garnett and Jonathan Cooper.
Person suffered a foot injury in the season opener and played through it for the bulk of the season. He was highly regarded for his work ethic and toughness by his teammates.
“Mike Person battled through some stuff and he kept showing up. That earns respect,” Lynch said. “And he’s a very respected player in our locker room. I think every now and then, there’s a guy deep into his career, it just all starts to click. And he got that opportunity and he really seized it.”
Bringing back Person marks the 49ers’ second notable free-agent decision this offseason. They gave Robbie Gould the franchise tag last week, preventing him from hitting the open market after being one of the NFL’s most dependable kickers the past two seasons.
The team also ensured 2015 first-round pick Arik Armstead would return on his fifth-year option. He’ll make just over $9 million guaranteed despite having just three sacks in 2018 and dealing with injuries throughout his career.
Bringing back Person means Garnett, a first-round pick in 2016, will have an uphill climb to regain a starting job for the first time since his rookie season. Shanahan indicated he had high hopes for Garnett when asked about Person at the combine.
“The problem is he couldn’t string enough days together to where he could really have consistent improvement,” Shanahan said. “And he’s started to have that for about a six-week period during the season, then something came up (thumb surgery) and he missed about three weeks, and he started again towards the end of the year. I’m just really hoping he can come back, get a full OTAs, full training camp. With his ability, and if he can get in the practice time, then he should have a good chance to help us.”
By bringing Person back, the 49ers don’t appear inclined to make a significant investment in another offensive lineman this spring. That allows them to focus on more pressing needs such as improving the pass rush, their secondary and finding a top-flight receiver to take over for Pierre Garçon, who was informed last month he won’t be returning.